At school on Thursday, I had a staged reading of my most recent piece, Becoming Number Six. The story follows a mother whose son is flirting with an anonymous hacker organization called Incognito, and a shadowy government spy agency who puts pressure on the family in hopes of forcing the hackers to reveal themselves. I though I’d brought the piece to a satisfactory conclusion, but the near-unanimous comments during the audience feedback session was that they wanted more, in fact, some were under the impression that they’d only seen the first act.
Part of the issue was that the play read very quickly. Despite being 71 pages long (by rule of thumb, each page takes a minute to read), the actors spoke the final line only 45 minutes after we started. However, I realized that my current ending creates in intellectual resolution, but not an emotional one. My ending points to a cycle of societal behavior, but leaves the fate actual characters hanging. While I don’t feel that finality is required in a script, it was interesting to see the desire for Aristotelean catharsis expressed by the audience, particularly since the text my Radical Theatre class is studying at the moment, argues that catharsis is a tool of cultural oppression while the play is criticizing the misuse of power in society Does that mean if I provide catharsis, I subvert my own critique?
I’m taking that irony rather tongue-in-cheek, and I think that my real task is serve both the play and the audience. Back to the writing desk.